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5 Video Games From This Generation That Did Humor Right
Video game narratives have evolved enormously since their inception. I have experienced endings so strong they brought tears to my eyes. I have been frightened into a shriek on more than one occasion, and I have smiled at many a heart-warming reunion in a game. One area that games have struggled in, however, is humor. While there are some funny games out there, most titles attempts at humor fall ridiculously flat at best, and come off as downright offensive at worst. However, not everybody is doing it wrong. Here are five titles from this generation that did funny right.
While a lot of you may not know who DeathSpank is, you have almost certainly seen, heard or played some of his creators other work. The brainchild of Ron Gilbert, mastermind behind titles like Maniac Mansion, The Secret of Monkey Island, Day of the Tentacle and The Cave, DeathSpank is certainly a unique hero. Displaying not even an ounce of self-awareness, DeathSpank travels the land in search of the Thongs of Virtue so he can destroy them in the Bacon Fires, all so he can rid the world of the evil Anti_Spank. Yes, it is as ridiculous and awesome as it sounds.
Throughout his trilogy (the last of which, The Baconing, features some surprisingly fun coop), DeathSpank interacts with some very memorable characters, and throws jokes out like they are going out of style. Some of his puns may induce a groan or two, but the majority of his antics and his hilarious wordplay ensure that even the most jaded gamers can enjoy a chuckle or two from him. Others, like myself, will be laughing outloud at some of his innuendos, and his eye-laser shooting shark buisnessman teammate.
If for some reason you haven’t played Portal yet (you monster), then you have almost certainly seen some of the memes spawned by Valve’s popular title. The Companion Cube and The Cake is a Lie are probably the most widespread, but both titles are full of dark humor that fits perfectly within the universe. Portal 2, with its introduction of the hilarious Wheatley and Aperture founder Cave Johnson, completely knocked it out of the park, delivering laughs with its absurd dialogue, perfect voice acting and fondness for crazy scientific jargon.
I’m not sure any other game will match the quotable lines from the two Portal games. GLaDOS is basically the gold standard for humorously deadpan villains, but it is Wheatley and Cave that stole the show for me. This is game that truly has to be exeperinced for the humor, if nothing else. Turns out the puzzles aren’t bad either. “I’ll be honest; we’re just throwing science at the wall and seeing what sticks.”
Saint’s Row: The Third
Of all the crazy video games out there, and there are some truly wacky ones to choose from, the Saint’s Row series might just be the most over-the-top. I mean, how many other games let you smack a pedestrian in the groin with a giant purple sex toy, dropkick yourself through a windshield and get hit by motorists in pursuit of insurance money? These are some of the more pedestrian activities in Saint’s Row: The Third, and is just a taste of the hilarious situations you can find yourself in.
Despite the wacky nature of the game, it is some of the character-driven moments that make it stand out. Singing “What I Got” by Sublime with a NPC buddy when it comes over the in-game radio, jumping out of a plane whilst wearing bobblehead masks of your gang leader and anything concerning Killbane; these are the moments that make the more absurd humor in the game shine that much more brightly. And come on, every single weapon has a unique groin shot animation. You have to appreciate that.
It’s hard to describe exactly what makes Borderlands 2 so endearing. While your main characters utter a few phrases here and there, they are generally silent and lack any personality. The story leaves a lot to be desired, which is pretty much par for the course for an FPS, although their are obvious exceptions to that rule. However, Borderlands 2 has a special magic to it, and a ton of jokes just waiting to be laughed at…providing you can find them
It starts with the main baddie, Handsome Jack. I’ve already outlined some of the reasons I loved him so much, and his humor is at the top of the list. He is constantly taunting you by making cracks about your friends death and your won ievitable demise, but mit is made all the more memorable by the fact that he see himself as the good guy. One mission where he has you go “check” on his elderly grandmother, appealing to your sense of compassion, is particularly indicative of his overall philosophy. And of course, there is Claptrap, the comedi soul of the game. As far as I know, he is still waiting on a high five from me…
Family Guy: Back to the Multiverse
No, Family Guy: Back to the Multiverse is not a good game. In fact, our own Ron Hoffecker thought it was one of the worst games released last year, and his reasoning is sound. However, I would argue that for the games demographic, hardcore Family Guy fans like myself, the game is worth at least a rental. The art style is a little weird, but it capture the feel of the show in 3D about as well as you could hope, and there is a certain novelty to running around Quahog as Brian or Stewie. Seth MacFarlane is there to handle the voice work, and even the music captures the essence of Family Guy rather well.
The best laughs are to be had with the ridiculous multiplayer, though. Character specific dialogue and movesets give you a reason to check out each character, and the stages are fun in a fan service kind of way. In fact, fan service is all this game really has to offer, but if you love Family Guy as much as I do, then this game could be worth a look for you.
These are my choices for games that made me laugh. What are some of yours? And no, again, Hulk Hogan’s Main Event doesn’t count. I’m tired of all the e-mails.